The Birthplace of French Perfumery and Grasse’s Fragrant Treasures
by Stefanie Michaels
Grasse is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. It is situated about 20 kilometers/12 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea and in the French Riviera hills. The closest cities are Cannes and Nice.
Provençal or specifically for the Grasse people, this specific French dialect, Maritim is spoken in the areas around Aix-en-Provence, It is also known as Centrau or Mediterranèu.
This picturesque town is steeped in history. The Old Town of Grasse is filled with cobblestone streets, quaint shops, and historical buildings.
Dubbed the World’s Capital of Parfume, Grasse is also home to several perfumeries, including Fragonard and Galimard, which offer tours and workshops for travelers interested in learning about the history and art of perfumery. Visitors can also take around the International Perfume Museum, which showcases the history of perfumery.
There are two important floral festivals— one in spring and the other at the end of summer. The annual Expo Rose is held each year in May. It’s an international exhibition of roses.
Before you go, make sure you have smaller bottles that are TSA compliant, in case you happen to purchase more than allowed through security.
The Fête du Jasmin, also known as La Jasminade, is quite the celebration, complete with decorated floats driven through the town, with young people on board, throwing flowers to the crowd. Jasmine ribbons decorate the center of town. Bring your rain jackets, as their fire department fills a fire truck with jasmine-infused water to spray on revellers.
Some things to do in Grasse include:
- Visit one of the many perfumeriesz: In the city, such as Fragonard or Galimard, learn about the history of perfumery and see how fragrances are made.
- Explore the Old Town of Grasse: This French hamlet is filled with charming streets, quaint shops, and historical buildings.
- Visit the International Perfume Museum, which showcases the history of perfumery and the art of creating scents.
- Take a hike: Head to the surrounding hills to enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes and take in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
- Visit the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Puy: This 12th-century church is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture.
- Enjoy the local cuisine: Dine in one of the many restaurants in the city, which is known for its fresh seafood and Provencal dishes.
- Take a day trip: to the nearby towns of Cannes and Antibes, which are both known for their beautiful beaches, chic boutiques, and lively nightlife.
- Visit the Parfumerie Galimard, The oldest perfumery in Grasse offers tours and workshops for visitors interested in learning more about the art of perfumery.
Did you know?
During the 16th century, Grasse was also a significant producer of leather gloves. The town’s tanners used the same techniques to create perfume essences to scent the gloves, making them highly sought after.
The leather glove industry was so thriving that it eventually surpassed the perfume industry in importance to the local economy.
A little history:
Grasse is a town in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence region of southeastern France. The city’s rich history dates back to ancient times, with evidence of prehistoric settlements in the area.
In the 10th century,
Grasse was part of the Holy Roman Empire and was a fortified town, with a castle built on a hill overlooking the town. In the 13th century, Grasse became part of the County of Provence and was governed by the Counts of Provence.
During the Renaissance period, Grasse became an essential center for producing leather gloves, and by the 18th century, the town had become France’s leading perfumes producer.
The perfume industry remains a significant part of the local economy today, with many of the world’s top perfumers sourcing ingredients from Grasse.
Grasse was also an important location during World War II, with the Germans occupying the town in 1940. The city played a crucial role in the Resistance movement, with many locals risking their lives to shelter and protect Allied soldiers and help them escape to safety.
Grasse is a popular tourist destination today, known for its beautiful scenery, historic architecture, and world-renowned perfumeries. The town’s old town, with its narrow streets and medieval buildings, is exceptionally well-preserved and is a must-visit for anyone interested in history and culture.